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Pedestrians in wheelchairs at higher risk in accidents

The roads of many California cities can be particularly unforgiving for pedestrians, and a new study suggests that those in wheelchairs may be especially vulnerable. Academics from Georgetown University say that pedestrians in wheelchairs are 36 percent more likely to be killed when struck than those on foot, and careless motorists are often the reason why. The study was based on NHTSA accident statistics recorded between 2006 and 2012, and it was published in the online medical journal BMJ Open.

According to the researchers, car accidents in crosswalks involved wheelchair-bound pedestrians 48 percent of the time, and the vehicles that struck them did not attempt to slow down or avoid a collision in 78 percent of the accidents studied. The research team also pointed out that pedestrians riding mobility scooters may also have a higher risk of being killed in a crash.

While the researchers conceded that drivers may sometimes have difficulty seeing pedestrians in wheelchairs, they also pointed out that the absence of even late braking or evasive maneuvers indicate that motorists often do not pay sufficient attention to pedestrian traffic or may be distracted by electronic devices such as cellphones. However, researchers accepted that those in wheelchairs may have medical situations that make them more vulnerable in accidents.

Pedestrians struck by cars, trucks or SUVs rarely have time to move out of the way, and this is particularly true for those confined to a wheelchair. Personal injury attorneys may file lawsuits against negligent motorists on behalf of pedestrians who suffer injury, loss or damage in an accident caused by reckless behavior or the families of those who have lost a loved one. This litigation may seek to hold negligent drivers financially responsible for their actions by seeking compensation for funeral costs, medical bills and lost income.

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